GREENVILLE, S.C. – Furman scored two runs with two outs and the bases empty in the bottom of the ninth inning to rally past the Michigan State baseball team, 4-3, on Opening Day Friday at Fluor Field in the First Pitch Invitational.
The Spartans took a 3-2 lead into the bottom of the ninth thanks to a three-run homer by Joel Fisher in the top of the fifth. Fisher’s blast brought home Blaise Salter, who singled, and Jimmy Pickens, who was hit by a pitch.
MSU fell behind early, as two errors led to a pair of Paladin runs in the bottom of the second. Paul Nitto of Furman led off frame with a double and an MSU error put Jake Jones on base with only one out. Jarrod Rickman then singled home Nitto and another Spartan error sent Jones home as well on the same play.
Spartan starter Andrew Waszak lasted six innings and only allowed two runs, one earned, on five hits in the no decision. He struck out three and walked one.
Junior lefty Jeff Kinley took over in the seventh and fanned three in his 2 2/3 innings of work. After striking out the first two batters in the bottom of the ninth, Kinley walked Jones and gave way to freshman closer Justin Alleman.
Alleman, a native of Holt, Mich., allowed a triple to center field against his first batter, Heath Burton, which tied the game at 3. The next batter, Alex Abrams, battled Alleman to an eight-pitch at-bat and hit a 3-2 pitch to center field for the game-winning hit, plating Burton.
Sophomore center fielder Anthony Cheky was the only Spartan with a multi-hit game, as he went 2-for-4, including a double in the fifth. The Spartans collected a total of eight hits.
Furman’s Nate Smith struck out six and gave up five hits in his six innings of work. Reliever Ben Carlson came away with the victory after pitching a scoreless ninth.
Michigan State returns to action Saturday at 4 p.m. to face Miami-Ohio.